WHO Designates New COVID Strain ‘Variant Of Concern’, Names it ‘Omicron’; Know Details

New Delhi: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has designated the new coronavirus strain, B.1.1.529, first detected in South Africa, as a “variant of concern” (VOC) and named it Omicron.

Omicron is the latest COVID-19 strain to join WHO’s list of “variants of concern” after the deadly and currently dominant Delta besides Alpha, Beta and Gamma strains.

The latest variant has been found so far in Israel, Belgium, Botswana and Hong Kong.

Many of the infected people were fully vaccinated. At least one person in Israel also received a third booster vaccine dose, which is a cause of worry among health scientists.

Analysis suggests that the new variant has been spreading at a rate faster than the other variants, including Delta.

Several countries on Friday imposed travel bans and stock markets and oil prices crashed on fears that the new, fast-spreading variant could potentially be more dangerous than even Delta.

India has been monitoring the developments following detection of the new COVID strain closely.

“Based on the evidence presented indicative of a detrimental change in Covid-19 epidemiology… the WHO has designated B.1.1.529 as a ‘variant of concern’ (VOC), named Omicron,” the WHO said.

The variant was first reported in South Africa. “This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning,” the WHO said.

The WHO classifies new COVID-19 strains as ‘variants of interest’ or the more worrying ‘variants of concern’.

The world health body decided to name the variants after letters of the Greek alphabet to avoid countries that first detected them being stigmatised.

Delta, first discovered in India last year, has been the deadliest COVID-19 variant till now.

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